[Review] Ruger LCP II: The .22 Pocket Rocket

I’ve always had a weakness for .22 handguns. Revolver or semi-auto, it doesn’t matter to me. The thought of having a gun that can go pretty much anywhere you go, on your belt or in a pocket appeals to me. I call them “walking-around guns.” As I wander our woods, I appreciate having something that goes “bang” with me, not so much for protection against two- or four-legged critters, but to use if I see a stump that needs an extra hole in it or other plinking opportunity. It’s nice having that gun in .22 LR, because if I do ventilate that stump, it doesn’t deafen me like my .45 Colt or .44 Magnum (even with light Special loads) would. Throughout the years, I’ve owned a few .22 handguns. I remember one Ruger Single-Six with the short, under-5-inch barrel I owned once, similar to this one but with that shorter barrel and an adjustable rear sight…

ruger single six

That was one accurate gun. My brother and I were squirrel hunting, him with his Winchester 9422 lever gun and me with that Ruger. A squirrel poked his head just above the fork of a tree about 25 yards away. He didn’t have a shot, but I did. I made a shot that I still can’t believe I made – standing, two-hand-hold with no other support. I took him out of that tree with one shot. I say that not to make myself appear to be a great shot (I’m not) but to emphasize the inherent accuracy of most .22 handguns, and that one in particular. I later owned a Ruger Mk. II 22/45 with a 5.5-inch barrel that had their excellent adjustable rear sight and bull barrel. That was another accurate gun, as well.

ruger mkII 22 45

I guess I am subconsciously equating Ruger rimfire handguns with accuracy. They don’t own the accuracy crown – after all, there are plenty of other .22s out there that will shoot very well. It’s just that I’ve had experience with these guns, and they were really on the money. There is a newer Ruger that shows promise in the .22 pistol arena. I finished testing the LCP II, a neat little pocket .22 that just might get carried into my Wild Backyard…

Enter The LCP

We can’t really talk about the .22 version of the LCP II without mentioning its forerunner, the LCP. The LCP (Lightweight Compact Pistol) debuted at the SHOT Show in 2008 in caliber .380 Auto. Looking curiously like the Kel-Tec P3AT (my opinion), the Ruger met with instant success. Police carried them as back-up guns and civilians bought them as their primary CCW. Featuring a (shrouded) hammer-fired action, the gun came with a six-round magazine. A seven-round extended mag was introduced in 2013.

The gun earned a certain claim to fame when, in 2010, Texas Governor Rick Perry used one to dispatch a coyote that was menacing his Labrador retriever. After that, Ruger released a “Coyote Special” version of the gun to commemorate the event.

After upgrading the LCP with a better trigger and sights (LCP Custom), Ruger released the .380 LCP II in 2016. This gun included a trigger safety (and much-improved trigger, in my opinion), better sights, a frame re-design that made shooting easier and the ability to lock the slide back after the last shot.

Now In .22!

In December of 2019, Ruger introduced the .22 LR version of the LCP II. It was originally touted as a “practice gun” for LCP II .380 owners, but some folks just started carrying the new .22 for personal protection (make sure to check out CCW insurance) – more on that later. Featuring their Lite-Rack slide and a 10-round magazine (as opposed to the 6-round .380 version), the gun was pretty much an immediate success. The slide is noticeably easier to rack than some of those on similar guns and the LCP II’s upgraded sights and trigger make the gun a contender for a pocket-carried, primary concealed carry gun for those who favor the .22 in that role.

For a thorough exploration of the .22 as a primary personal defense caliber, check out Lucky Gunner’s video:

Let’s look at the gun’s specifications:

Caliber:.22 LR
Overall Length:5.2 inches
Height:4.0 inches
Weight:11.2 ounces (Ruger’s spec); 10.5 ounces with empty mag on my digital scale
Capacity:10+1; one magazine included
Action:Single-action, hammer-fired
Trigger Pull Weight:5 pounds, 3.6 ounces (measured, average trigger pull)
Frame:Glass-filled nylon
Slide Material:Alloy steel, black oxide finish
Barrel Length:2.75 inches
Barrel Material:Stainless steel
Slide Width:0.81”
Features:Lite Rack ™ system: refined slide serrations, slide cocking ears and reduced-weight recoil spring
Safety:Manual thumb, push forward to engage; magazine disconnect (will not fire with magazine
Included Accessories:Magazine loader, pocket holster, lock
MSRP:$349
Real-World Price:$300-$320

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Reasons For A Little .22 Pistol…

The gun is a lightweight, light-recoiling pistol that offers 11 (10+1) quick shots of .22 rimfire rounds. That would be reason enough to carry it as a backup in a pocket, or for some folks, to carry it as their main defense gun. As I said above, I’ll let the reader decide if a .22 LR is a viable defense cartridge. My opinion is that I’d rather have a .22 with me than a stick, but other calibers can be more effective. At any rate, there are plenty of uses for a gun like this. I mentioned one above – what I call a walking-around gun. This is not the gun to have with you if you need to take out a rabid dog, coyote or other toothy predator, but if you need to dispatch a raccoon or similar-sized smaller varmint, this could come in handy. It has been brought to my attention that our yard and surrounding woods are home to all sorts of critters, both welcome and unwelcome. Our fearless feline has laid low several critters over the past few months, including rampaging chipmunks, gray squirrels with attitudes, and the other day presented us with our first possum. But, the critter that our cat waylaid recently that really got my attention and makes me want to keep a walking-around gun handy is the weasel that was deposited in the cat’s “Dead Critter Spot Of Honor” in our yard. Now, I ain’t afraid-a no weasels, but we have more than 30 chickens that might be. I had no idea that we even had any weasels in our proximity, but evidently we do. With chickens to protect (not to mention the general varmint factor of unwanted fauna that show up in our area), I am ever vigilant. This little Ruger or similar gun could surely come in handy.

Pictures

Let’s look at some photos of our LCP II…

Ruger LCP II left side

Mug shots. Above, note the back-and-forth safety—different, to be sure.

Ruger LCP II right side
Note the grip texturing.

Ruger initiated this pattern with this gun (or at least the original one in .380) and has carried it throughout most of their pistol line. The Security 9, the Ruger American (along with their compact versions) and the Ruger 57 all share this texturing. To the best of my knowledge, the only Ruger pistol models that deviate from this pattern are the LC9S/EC9S and the LC380. This model is what Ruger calls its Lite Rack version – note the “wings” at the rear of the slide that stick out a bit and allow a firm grasp. The recoil spring has been adjusted, also, in order to make this gun’s slide easier to rack. One last thing – note the forward slide serrations. They can be handy.

Ruger LCP II field stripped
Field-stripped.

The screwdriver is an integral part of the takedown process – you need it to pop the take-down pin loose before taking it out of the frame (see below).

Ruger LCP II recoil spring
Recoil spring…

…obviously not captured on the guide rod, but it wasn’t a big deal getting it seated.

Ruger LCP II slide underneath
Under the hood.

The slide is very clean, no burrs or obvious machining marks.

Takedown

I mentioned the screwdriver above – let’s look at takedown of the LCP II:

  1. Remove the magazine, check for an empty chamber.
  2. Let the slide come forward if it’s locked to the rear.
  3. Using the screwdriver, pry the takedown pin loose from its seated position. You’ll hear a “pop” as it breaks free.
  4. Remove the pin and move the slide forward, off the frame. A trigger pull is not required.
  5. Unseat the recoil spring and guide. The spring is loose, so keep a finger on it as you guide it out.
  6. Remove the barrel.

After you clean the gun, reverse the process to reassemble. One thing – when you reinsert the takedown pin, put it in first at an upward angle (pointing up) and press it in to move its “keeper” spring down. Once that spring is down, straighten the pin to level and press it in. It will click into position. That’s all there is to it.

Shooting The LCP II…

I tried a few different types of ammo in my test LCP II, with varying results. With a barrel only 2 ¾ inches long, you don’t have much in the way of sighting radius or velocity, but you make do. Here are targets from the four loads I shot through it. Only one load would warrant further experimentation – I’ll explain in a minute. I put some of my targets up at 15 yards and went to my shooting bench. Here are the results…

target winchester shot with LCP 2
Winchester plain-jane solid round nose, 40 grain.

Of the four loads I shot with this gun, the Winchester gave me the most problems. I loaded five in the magazine, racked the slide and pulled the trigger. The first one went downrange, and then things went wonky. I had to single-feed three of them into the chamber, and at that, not all of those fired until I re-loaded them into the magazine and gave them a second chance. I would have to lay the fault for this situation at the feet of the ammo, since the other loads I shot functioned perfectly. I’ve never had that kind of trouble with Winchester rimfire ammo – evidently, the gun and that box of ammo just didn’t like each other.

target remington thunderbolt shot with LCP 2
Remington Thunderbolt, 40 grain round nose – pattern, not a group…

Same here:

target minimag shot with LCP 2
Mini-mags, 36 grain hollow point
target stingers shot with Ruger LCP 2
Stingers, 32 grain hollow point

(Sidenote – if you like these targets, fill in your email on the very bottom of this page to download them for your use, no charge. Print them in B&W if you like. I designed them for my use, but by all means give them a try!)

As you can see, the first three don’t show much promise. It wasn’t until I dug into my dwindling stash of .22 ammo that I found the box of CCI Stingers. The advertised velocity on the box is 1640 f.p.s (from a rifle with a yard-long barrel, evidently). Out of the under-three-inch barrel of our LCP II, the round clocked three f.p.s. shy of 1000. I didn’t chronograph the other loads – I figured if any one of the four loads was going to show some speed, it would be the Stinger. Showing 71 ft./lbs. of energy, this would be the load to carry in this particular gun out of the four I tried. Of course, were I to seriously consider taking this gun with me most anyplace I’d go, I would buy a lot of other brands and loads to try in it. I was just wanting to get an idea of how the gun shot with some of what I had on hand. Three of the five Stingers were in the yellow circle – that says something about how the sights were regulated on this particular pistol. I would need to do a whole lot of research – I’d want to find a lesser-expensive round to practice with, all the while knowing that the Stingers would hit close to point of aim in case a serious shot was needed. I could definitely see the Stingers putting an end to that sick raccoon who used to sneak onto our porch in broad daylight and eat our cats’ food. I did end up using a Charter Arms Pathfinder .22 revolver to solve the problem.

Hits & Misses

Well, we’re about at the end of our journey with this little pistol. What did I think of it, overall? I’m going to do something here that I’ve only done in a few of my reviews – a pro/con list. This will tell you, in short order, what I liked about the gun and what I didn’t.

Hits:

  • Small and light. A ten-and-a-half ounce gun will get carried a lot, and will be shot even more – it’s a .22.
  • Magazine capacity. Ten rounds in a gun this size is good. Even the new Glock 44, a full-sized .22 pistol, has only a 10-round magazine. For this little gun to sport ten rounds is really impressive.
  • Sights. The sights are nothing to write home about but they are an improvement over the original LCP’s.
  • Accuracy. Again, nothing special but not bad for an under-three-inch barreled pocket gun with selected loads.
  • Ergonomics. For a two-finger gun, it sits amazingly well in the hand and retains pointability.
  • Goodies. In the box with the gun are included a pocket holster and magazine loader (the magazine does not have a pull-down loading button-see below).

Misses:

Takedown. For Pete’s sake, get rid of the easily-lost takedown pin. I’m not an engineer, but shouldn’t this gun, even as small as it is, be large enough to have a small swinging takedown lever like (Springfield Armory’s XD line/Sig/H&K), or at least Glock-style takedown tabs? You shouldn’t have to remember to bring along a screwdriver in your range bag in order to clean this gun properly. (And, you can’t really use a cartridge case rim to pop out the takedown pin. Ruger specifically mentions using a screwdriver in the owner’s manual):

screwdriver

Thumb safety. Why does the safety work differently than 90% of other pistol safeties out there? Why forward and not down to disengage it? I’m not sure what Ruger’s engineers were thinking when they came up with this idea. I do know that it’s awfully easy to engage the safety while racking the slide – this is not a good thing. If you are not used to engaging whatever thumb safety is on a gun (a situation that a lot of us lefties find ourselves in), then you may not know that you accidentally engaged it when you racked the slide until you needed to fire the gun. That could be a really bad thing, depending on why you needed to shoot. If the safety moved up and down and not fore and aft, this most likely would not be an issue.

Magazine. Ruger thoughtfully includes a plastic push-down magazine loading tool (like Glock’s) to help you load the 10-round magazine, but why not just put a pull-down loading button on the side of the magazine? My old Ruger Mk II’s magazines had those, and they made loading easy.

Ruger LCP II magazine
LCP II magazine – no easy-load button.

Carrying It For Personal Protection?

I touched on this topic above, but let’s look at it in a little more detail here. I’ve had folks ask what I think about carrying a .22 for protection. Before I end this review, let me address that issue. I think this gun is a great example of a decent pocket-sized .22 pistol. The problem with most small .22s is the reliability issue. It isn’t even so much the gun as it is the ammo – some .22 ammo is notoriously “iffy” when it comes to going bang every time. (My own limited experience with this gun and my ammo bears this out, as you read above). Add in the odd, once-in-while light primer strike and you have a good recipe for less-than-desirable reliability. In a range gun or a walking-around gun, this is not a big deal. But, if you’re carrying this gun for personal protection, you need it to fire each and every time you pull the trigger with your chosen carry ammo. If you look at some of the other short-barreled pocket .22s out there such as the Beretta tip-barrel model 21 A Bobcat (or its Taurus look-alike model PT-22), you still can run into some issues. It seems to me that a .22 needs to be of a certain minimum size in order to lessen reliability problems. That is strictly my un-scientific, not-an-engineer opinion, of course, but It’s born out of years of shooting (and watching others shoot) small .22 handguns.

Would this Ruger work as a concealed-carry gun? That depends. If the owner bought several different brands or types of .22 ammo and then shot the snot out of it with each one, he or she might find that one load that really works. I would put as many rounds as I could (or, in this current ammo availability situation, as many as you can find) through the gun. First, see which brand is reliable – which brand feeds and fires best. You’ll need to set your own criteria for acceptability here. Then, check accuracy – does this load shoot close to where the sights are looking and group moderately well? The greatest ammo in the world is no good if it prints eight inches high and four inches left. Correcting these kinds of fixed sights can be an involved process. If you can find a load that works every time and hits close to where you’re looking, then you are ahead of the game. Again, I am not going to answer the “is-the-.22-enough-for-concealed-carry” debate…you have to decide that for yourself. I am only saying that if you do want to stick it in your pocket when you go out, just be sure you’ve done your homework (or range work, as the case may be). Only one failure to feed or fire could be one too many.

Conclusion

Our little Ruger is quite a gun in its own right – I think you could do worse if you are looking for a pocket-sized gun to run your trap lines with, to take on a hike, to use during an afternoon at the range or to just walk around with. Whatever uses you might find for it are only limited by your imagination.

The next time you’re at your local gun shop, pick up an LCP II and look it over. You might really like what you see. If you own one of these or have had experience with one, leave us a comment below. As always, keep ‘em in the black and stay safe!

Mike
Written by Mike

Mike has been a shooter, bullet caster and reloader for over 40 years. Never one to be satisfied with the status quo, he is often found at his reloading bench concocting yet another load. With a target range in his backyard and after 40 years of shooting, his knowledge of firearms and reloading is fairly extensive. He is married, with four sons and daughters-law and 9-and-counting grandkids.

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